With self-driving vehicles quickly becoming a reality, the question of how autonomy will impact the future car interior has taken over the imaginations of the industry and public alike. Naturally, this topic shaped many of the discussions at this year’s WardsAuto Interiors Conference, which drew nearly 700 attendees last week in Detroit for keynote speeches, panel sessions and award presentations. Our own Chris Ludwig was invited back to deliver a presentation and engage in a panel discussion around “Creating the Ultimate User Experience,” along with Jim Hotary of Faurecia, Shital Patil of Visteon, and Kimberly Clavin of Pillar Technology. The room was packed, a key indicator of the importance of user experience in the next era of personal mobility. “How we can take advantage of it?” was the question tackled by the panelists. As Ludwig put it, it ultimately comes down to “how do we create emotion in the autonomous age?”


Drawing on his expertise in smart audio, Chris focused his presentation on advancements in audio and next generation processing that usher in a whole new menu of in-car experiences. The power of technologies like Summit NEXT to create new opportunities for entertainment, relaxation and productivity was met with much enthusiasm by the audience. Chris also spoke to the effectiveness of augmented reality and audio as a safety mechanism, the importance of smart audio to voice-enabled technologies, and how autonomy is creating a “passenger economy” from which companies like HARMAN are poised to benefit in new ways.


A key takeaway from his presentation was the idea that focusing on user experience will help consumers overcome their fears about giving up control inside the vehicle. Just as people were once afraid to travel by airplane, autonomous vehicles will need to overcome the trepidation of the new with consumers. As they eventually become a commonplace and necessary reality, realizing how the new in-car experience improves their lives will generate consumer trust.

For more on Chris’ panel discussion, please see the article recap on WardsAuto here.